By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Volunteers at the Sacred Heart Clothing Center are taking a team approach to running the free clothing center for persons in need. The clothing center, established in 1973 by Msgr. Sebastian Menke, was first housed in the basement of Sacred Heart Cathedral. It later moved to the basement of Cathedral Manor on the parish property before moving to its current location at 415 E. 10th St. in 2011. Pat Keys managed the center since its relocation and is preparing to retire. Since January, she has worked with a core set of volunteers to continue Sacred Heart Clothing Center’s mission.
Volunteers Carolyn Bates, Chris Brown and Mary Gillooly have taken the reigns to steer three committees. Bates leads operations. She works the phone and is developing relationships with various groups. Brown leads hospitality, making sure drinks and a snack are available for patrons when the center is open and offering a listening ear. Gillooly is in charge of volunteers. “We are doing this as a team approach,” Bates said. About 30 volunteers from various parishes and the neighborhood assist, but more are needed. “Pat led this for 4 ½ years. When she wanted to retire, she worked with us to keep the center going. She has been training us,” Bates added.
Volunteers can work at the center in a variety of ways. They might sort clothing and other items while the center is closed. “Kind of behind-the-scenes stuff,” Bates said. “But we also need people to help our patrons when they are here,” Brown added. At least four volunteers are needed when the center is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. One takes the names of patrons and marks them on a card. Another volunteer assists in the women’s and children’s section. Another helps in the men’s section, and another volunteer bags items, which are free.
Along with clothing, linens, books, small appliances and other items are on the shelves when available.
When patrons come, some like to stay and chat in the living room either waiting their turn to shop or to talk afterwards.
“We are very blessed with our donors,” Bates said. A batch of about 100 new jackets, still in their plastic bags, was going to be thrown out of a storage unit. Instead, they were brought to the clothing center. “We’re down to just a handful,” Bates noted.
Clothing that is not torn, dirty or worn out can be distributed to individuals in need. If donated items are not what patrons would want, such as fancy dresses and suits, they are traded with other clothing resale shops such as Cinderella’s Cellar, Bates said. They also work with the Salvation Army each week. “If we have excess in one section, we share,” Brown added.
Donations are always welcome and the clothing center has a shed where people can place items during non-business hours. Items accepted include clothing of all sizes, small appliances, toys, books, linens, gloves, candles (not tapered), towels and sheets. The greatest need is for men’s jeans, sneakers, bedding and linens.
Individuals interested in volunteering may call (563) 362-0915.